Drones Raise Alarm at Kelowna Airport in Canada

Kelowna International has been abuzz with more than just airplanes recently. Three sightings of drones were reported within the airport's airspace in just a month. Drones aren't new to causing disruptions, but when they fly near an airport, the stakes get higher.

“We have a drone exclusion zone which is about 5.6 km around the airport,” says Shayne Dyrdal, acting CEO for the airport. “If there is a sighting of a drone within that area, we initiate our safety responses.”

This exclusion zone is vital for ensuring the safety of planes taking off and landing. The zone covers a large area, from Duck Lake to Sexsmith Road and from Glenmore Road to past Old Vernon Road.

Dyrdal confirmed drone sightings on July 27 and Aug. 3. However, he wasn't informed about another drone spotted on Aug. 16. This drone was hovering at a concerning 4,200 feet, much higher than the airport's elevation of 1,421 feet.

With such incidents in mind, the airport's strategy reportedly has been to educate the public. Dyrdal emphasized, “When you are operating a drone, you are a pilot and you have to adhere to the Transport Canada regulations in the area.”

Indeed, anyone flying a drone that weighs between 250 grams and 25 kg needs a drone pilot's certificate in Canada.

Transport Canada is quite specific about its drone regulations. There's a basic certificate for most drone activities, but for advanced actions—like flying near an airport—a higher certification is necessary. Violating these regulations isn't cheap. Individuals can face fines starting at $1,000.

For serious violations, such as flying into an airport's airspace, fines begin at $3,000. Companies can be fined even more, up to $15,000. There's even potential for jail time, though exact sentences aren't specified.

Dyrdal's final words were a reminder for all drone enthusiasts: “The rules and regulations have been in place since 2019. If you own a drone, know the rules before you fly.”

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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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